There are many famous war movies in Hollywood. A lot of them focus on the World Wars, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan conflicts. Despite being one of the bloodiest and most expensive wars of the 20th century, only a few big-budget films have been made on the 1991 Persian Gulf War between Iraq and US allies. Here today we take a look at the 15 best movies about the Persian Gulf War:
15. The Law of Enclosures (2000)
This entry is different than the rest of the entries in this list mainly because it’s not about the Gulf War directly. Set in 1991 during the backdrop of the Persian Gulf War, the film focuses on the life of an old couple with an extremely toxic relationship. The plot then switches to a period when they both were young and enjoyed a very intimate relationship. It beautifully portrays how romantic commitments can change with time.
Despite starring Sarah Polley and getting decent reviews, this Canadian film went under the radar and is still quite unheard of in the mainstream media. Give it a shot if you like love stories that have a backdrop of some major war.
14. The One That Got Away (1996)
This survival story of British Corporal Ryan, played by Paul McGann, is based on a true incident that happened during the Gulf War. A British special forces mission hunting Iraqi Scud launchers goes awry and the group gets split into two. With hostile Iraqi forces alerted and possibly in pursuit, extreme weather, and the nearest evacuation point 180 miles away, Ryan is determined to make it no matter the odds.
This relatively low-budget film is quite well-made and depicts the ordeal very accurately.
13. Airlift (2016)
This unusual Bollywood film focuses on the evacuation of 170,000 trapped Indian civilians in Kuwait led by an Indian businessman during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that later ignited the Gulf War. The film’s story is loosely based on true events and quite accurately portrays the difficulties the Indian diaspora in Kuwait faced during the war.
The film features Akshay Kumar in the lead role and performed very well at the box office. The film impressed critics as well and won several awards.
12. The Devil’s Double (2011)
The Devil’s Double focuses on the life of Latif Yahia who is forced by Saddam Hussain’s erratic son Uday Hussein to work as his body double because of his uncanny resemblance with him. From starting the Gulf War to sexually assaulting and then brutally executing people at will, Uday’s notorious acts and unpredictable nature start affecting Latif’s nerves. He decides to flee Uday’s grip only to be actively pursued by him.
Despite being a great film with some impressive performances, it failed to impress critics and couldn’t perform well at the box office.
11. Lessons of Darkness (1992)
This documentary-style TV movie captures the huge environmental disaster that happened in the aftermath of the Gulf War when retreating Iraqi forces put Kuwaiti oil wells on fire. The fires kept on burning for months with the last one being extinguished after ten months. The massive thick black smoke generated by these massive fires created huge environmental and health issues.
Despite receiving some criticism for being deeply ambiguous, its engaging and unique narration made this documentary film a classic.
10. The Heroes of Desert Storm (1991)
The Heroes of Desert Storm may not be the most popular war film about the Gulf War, but it quite accurately portrays the atmosphere based on true accounts of soldiers and people living in Kuwait at the time.
It’s not every day a 39-country coalition comes to the aid of one country. This limited-budget TV film thoroughly touches the human side of the conflict.
9. The Finest Hour (1991)
The Finest Hour is another film that largely flies under the radar when it comes to war movies. It begins when two trainees at Navy SEAL training become buddies after starting as rivals. Soon, Iraq invades Kuwait, and these two are called for duty.
As soon as they arrive in a strange land, fighting in the desert, their friendship goes through various tests. Their mission is to rescue their former lead training instructor. During the mission, secrets are revealed, and two friends come close to rivalry again.
8. Bravo Two Zero (1999)
Bravo Two Zero is one of the best films about the Gulf War in terms of action. It’s based on the true story of a decorated SAS group that led various missions during the Gulf War in 1991. The film begins with the invasion of Iraq.
Soon, the fear of chemical weapons drives the coalition forces. The task is assigned to a prolific SAS group to find Iraqi Scud missile launchers. The mission called Bravo Two Zero is led by Andy McNab (Sean Bean), and the odds are against them.
7. The Pentagon Wars (1998)
The Pentagon Wars is a comedy movie, but the satirical tones are amazing. The film is about a super-secret weapon called the Bradley Fighting Vehicle that the military has been developing for seventeen years. During that time, they have burned through $14 billion.
Soon, Major General Partridge, the one in charge of the Bradley project, and Lieutenant Colonel James Burton, an overseer appointed by the Pentagon, go against each other. The comedy ensues as Burton realizes the weapon has no qualities and is unprotected against modern battlefield threats. The strong resistance from Burton forced the military to make all the necessary changes to the Bradley project which saved hundreds of lives during the Persian Gulf War.
6. The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
The Manchurian Candidate is quite a unique movie. It’s about a Gulf War veteran who was at the center of major kidnapping and brainwashing during Operation Desert Storm. Soon, Raymond Shaw (Live Schreiber) becomes a hero for saving his unit.
But Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) doubts that things are not as simple as Shaw describes them to be. Marco gets flashbacks of the occurrence, as he was knocked out during the events. His investigation leads him down a rabbit hole that might change the reality surrounding Shaw’s heroic save of his comrades.
5. Live From Baghdad (2002)
Live From Baghdad is the real story of news reporters who went to cover the Persian Gulf War. The film thoroughly captures the initial American allied air attack on Baghdad that was captured live exclusively by CNN. That footage instantly made CNN extremely popular worldwide.
This TV film features an excellent cast including Michael Keaton and Helena Bonham Carter. Critics were impressed especially because of the accuracy of all the combat scenes.
4. Courage Under Fire (1998)
Courage Under Fire is another Denzel Washington gem about the Gulf War. This film is about investigating an event during the Gulf War that may or may not deem a helicopter pilot worthy of the esteemed Medal of Honor.
Colonel Sterling (Washington) is assigned to investigate whether Captain Karen Emma (Meg Ryan) should be the first posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. Sterling begins to notice discrepancies and contradictions that make him question whether Captain Emma deserves this accolade.
3. The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
The Men Who Stare at Goats isn’t your average war movie as it’s one of those puzzling stories that require you to connect each dot. This is yet another flick that’s inspired by real events though it does not feature real characters.
The story kicks off when Bob Wilton, a reporter, sees his wife leave him for another man. To prove his mettle, he goes to Kuwait and aims to report on the Iraq War. However, he ends up getting more than just a story when he finds a specialist U.S. Army operator called Lyn Cassady.
2. Three Kings (1999)
Three Kings is set right after the end of Operation Desert Storm. The three main protagonists unexpectedly run into secret information regarding a concealed stash of gold in the vicinity of their base. Soon, the adventure for gold turns into a mission, and chaos ensues.
1. Jarhead (2005)
A little over a decade before the Iraq War, in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, a 39-military coalition was sent to aid Kuwait against Iraq.
The film is from the perspective of Anthony Swafford (Jake Gyllenhaal), who shares his experience with fellow U.S. sniper Alan Troy (Peter Sarsgaard) during Operation Desert Storm. The film largely focuses on the psychological effects of extensive use of modern air power.
What are your favorite Persian Gulf War movies? Share with us in the comments!